Author Archives: substanceabusepreventionund

Attention!

fentanylAs a whole, the nation has seen a major rise in the recreational use of the synthetic drug, Fentanyl. In many cases, Fentanyl is used as a heroin substitute. Its euphoric effects are much like heroin and morphine, which has been a major motivation for its use. Fentanyl is 30-50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine. In high and unregulated doses, this pain reliever can be very dangerous; in fact, Fentanyl is the strongest pain reliever (Opioid) used in the medical field. For this reason, it should not be used recreationally, even in doses as small as .25 mg it can cause major health effects.

Fentanyl use is occurring in several way, all of which are very dangerous. Fentanyl can be used in the same way as heroin- through injection with a needle, inhalation, or a pain reliever patch. The full effect of the patch occurs within 12-24 hours after being in contact with the skin. It is very dangerous to even be in the area of Fentanyl use, especially if it is being ingested in powdered form. Individuals that accidentally inhale Fentanyl can still experience its negative effects. Even if you are not directly participating in using Fentanyl, be sure to stay out of settings in which Fentanyl use is occurring.

Fentanyl is extremely dangerous on its own, but is even more potent when mixed with the use of other illicit drugs or alcohol.  If you see someone experiencing the following symptoms after using Fentanyl, call for help immediately.

• Hypoventilation (slow or below normal breathing)
• Abdominal pain
• Anxiety
• Depression
• Hallucinations

Check out the video below for a PSA from your very own Grand Forks healthcare providers:

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Alcohol affects women in different ways than it affects men; for this reason, women should be aware of how to track their drinking.

Girls Just Want to Have FunWhy does alcohol affect women differently? Well, the biggest reason is that alcohol is held in body water and women tend to have less overall body water than men. Therefore, alcohol can reach their blood stream at a faster rate and in higher concentrations. The effects of drinking too much alcohol may last longer with women because they have less alcohol metabolizing enzymes in their body than men. This also puts women at a higher risk for developing alcohol related health problems such as high blood pressure, depression, stroke, and various types of cancer.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, low risk drinking for women is defined as having no more than 7 drinks per week and no more than 3 drinks per day. Stress seems to be a common theme in the lives of the female population, and it may be super easy to wind down at the end of a day with a glass of wine, which seems to be a pretty popular drink choice for women. However, a tall glass of wine can easily turn into three or more drinks if filled to the brim or even the middle of the glass, then refilled. It is important to know the line for ONE drink in the glasses you are using. Make sure to check next time!

Below are a few effects of long term drinking on women’s body and health:

  • Diminishes the skin of necessary nutrients
  • Makes any pre-existing skin conditions worse
  • Lowers fertility
  • Dehydrates the skin
  • Causes hair and nails to become brittle

A few ways to track your drinking while out with friends or drinking with men is to use the new app, ‘What’s Your Buzz?,’ make tallies on a note page in your phone, or bring bracelets in your purse and put a new one on with each new drink. The best way would be to start your night out with a set number of drinks you are going to drink that night and tell a friend so that you can hold one another accountable.

One interesting fact about women and drinking is that slightly before and during a woman’s period, they will feel the effects of alcohol more quickly; however, birth control lengthens the time it takes to feel the effects. So if you are on birth control, be sure to really track your drinks because your body may be telling you something different. Alcohol also stimulates ones appetite while decreasing one’s control at the same time; which causes women to drink more than they set out to drink.

A lot of times the calories in the drinks are even more than the calories in some food. For example the calories in a glass of wine are similar to eating a whole cheeseburger! A serving of vodka contains 160 calories which is equivalent to a doughnut! One bottle of beer is like having one piece of pizza! If the calorie equivalents scare you, it is smart to eat more throughout the day and drink less rather than eliminating eating altogether in order to make room for the calories from the drinks. If you participate in refraining from eating in order to drink more, it may cause a reduction of nutrient intake, weaken your energy levels and could even serve as a catalyst to eating disorders or alcohol dependency. If you feel that this is already a part of your lifestyle, seek support from those closest to you or check out the campus resources like the University Counseling Center, Student Health Services, or the Health & Wellness Hub in McCannel Hall.

Just remember, it’s okay to drink less than men! These protective behaviors will ensure you have a good night when you go out with friends:

  • Stay with the same group of friends
  • Eat prior to and during drinks
  • Track your number of drinks
  • Avoid drinking games
  • Decide not to exceed your set number of drinks
  • Ask friends to help alert you when you’ve had enough

*Sources: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; Hazelden Foundation; and drinksmarter.org

“You’re the least drunk, you can drive us home!”

Take a moment to think, have you ever said this to one of your friends? Has one of your friends uttered these same words to you?
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Well these words could kill.

kids
As the amount of alcohol consumed in one’s body increases, their ability to be attentive and make decisions greatly decreases. Therefore, getting in the car with someone who has been drinking throughout the night or driving after a night of drinking could have detrimental consequences. Even the slightest drink can cause changes to your body and its’ functions. For example, at .02% Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) an individual has trouble performing two tasks at one time and their visual functions decline. At .05% BAC an individual can experience difficulty steering and have less of an ability to track moving objects. At .08% BAC the individual loses ability to control speed, or detect signals from traffic lights, other cars, and pedestrians. More importantly, they show signs of short term memory loss and an inability to concentrate at the task at hand.

designated driver
The facts are pretty numbing. More than 17,000 Americans are killed each year to drinking and driving. Did you know that most fatal car accidents happen between 12 a.m. and 3 a.m?
Shockingly, on average a drunken driver kills someone every 40 minutes in the U.S. And equally important to note is that the rate of drunk driving is highest amongst the age group of individuals 21-25 years old. [NCAAD] Don’t become a statistic; think before you let yourself or someone you know drive drunk. Take steps to ensure you are participating in risk free drinking and check out the protective behaviors to understand what that looks like.

Check out some of the laws North Dakota has in place for drinking under the influence here: http://dui.drivinglaws.org/ndakota.php
Check out a personal story from a man whose life changed after a night of drinking: https://vimeo.com/35282858

Sources:
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Drinking and Driving Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s Okay to Say No

Today, our society is greatly geared towards drinking, but there are many people that choose to not drink. Being a non-drinker in college can be hard due to constant pressure and hassle from friends and others. In turn, this is just a short clip of how those non-drinkers can get out of that sticky situation of pressure that they may encounter at a party.

Its Okay to Say No

1) Gracefully declining.

-It might just be as easy as saying “No thank you” to a friend. Remember saying no to drinking doesn’t make you lame.

Not Lame

2) Sometimes you might need a polite excuse that follows your graceful decline:

  • I’m driving tonight- I’m DDing (Designated Driving).
  • I have a huge test tomorrow.
  • I have to work tomorrow.
  • I have to get up early in the morning.
  • No thank you, I’m good tonight. I don’t feel well.
  • I drank too much last night.
  • I’m just going to lay low tonight, thank you though.
  • Hold that thought I have to go to the bathroom.

Excuses

3) Even just focusing the conversation on the other person and responding by saying, “no thank you” but followed by an open ended question spins the conversation and the person won’t even question you why you’re not drinking.

Wine

4) In order to avoid anxiety, this is what you might need to understand and what might help:

  • Realize that not everyone is into drinking all the time either.
  • Try and avoid situations where drinking will occur if you don’t want to.
  • Make other plans.
  • Test your assertiveness.
  • Be able to still have fun, don’t be the “party pooper.”
  • Carry a decoy. You can always carry a soda in a different glass disguising it, and your friends won’t be tempted to ask you if you need a drink.
  • Keep busy by taking pictures, socializing with more people, eating, have fun dancing, or even being the dj.

What is a Standard Drink?

Sometimes, counting the amount of drinks you are having in one night can be hard. There are so many different sizes and mixes that make it difficult to realize how much alcohol you might actually be consuming. Take a look at the chart below to help you better understand how large the standard drink size actually is.

Picture1
http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Practitioner/PocketGuide/pocket_guide2.htm
Here are some examples of drinks that can be misinterpreted for one drink but actually contain the alcohol content of many standard size drinks.

1. Long Island Iced Tea: The average Long Island Iced Tea has 2.5 ounces of hard alcohol in them! This means that after just one of these, a person could be considered over the legal BAC level to drive.

2. Pounders and Tall Boys: Pounders and Tall Boys can be considered as an amount of beer that is more than 12 oz. Many tend to be 16 or 22 oz.! Drinking three 22 oz. beers is the same as drinking six standard drinks!

Check out this great video which explains all of these concepts in a fun and engaging way: http://www.powtoon.com/show/fL5UMZ4AwwW/standard-drink-sizes/#/

 

An Artificial Awakening

I saw a meme the other day that made me both chuckle and think about my habits during my first semester as a graduate student. It was from a fellow classmate after we finished with our last final and it said, “Caffeine, you’re on the bench. Alcohol, suit up.” I’m sure it was funny to the majority of my classmates. It made me reflect on my study habits and my cycles of “self-medicating.” Both caffeine and alcohol are indeed drugs, legal ones, but too many people have developed a dependency on them.

I can remember a few tests this semester where I had more caffeine than I should have while studying. I knew skipping coffee on any day would make me feel unproductive. I associated mental arousal with that irresistible hot black beverage. I even went on a caffeine detox for a week and I felt horrible during the first couple of days.
After those tests were done, I often found myself wanting some sort of alcoholic beverage just to relax. I didn’t want to go to parties and binge drink my brain away, but rather enjoy the effects of a drink or two in solitude. See, my mind was so overstimulated from the caffeine that the depressive effects of alcohol seemed to balance it out. I needed one drug to counteract the effects of another. I thought I was being smart, only having one or two drinks on Friday evening. My mindset was “I’m old enough to legally drink; I’m doing so responsibly, there is nothing wrong here.”

Many will argue that caffeine and alcohol are fine in moderate amounts and in appropriate situations; however, I do believe we need to get out of the vicious substance controlled undulation of our state of minds. Instead of relying on caffeine to heighten our senses, we should be altering our lifestyles in a manner that brings more balance. Instead of unwinding with a drink after a week of taxing our minds with caffeine and dull textbooks, we should be seeking out positive and enriching experiences outside school. I’m not going to be giving up on my green tea anytime soon, but I will avoid using it solely as a means to be more attentive.

Alcohol, Sleep & Caffeine: How do they mix?

Can alcohol really help you sleep better at night?

NO, it affects the deep sleep cycle and causes the sleeper to have a more fitful night of sleep. This is due to the fact that the body is processing and metabolizing the alcohol. During this processing, ones’ sleep becomes lighter and more distressed. The notion that drinking alcohol before bed can help you sleep better seems to be widespread in part because in some cases people have believed it can help one fall asleep more quickly. However, it does not actually help you stay asleep or give you the greatest quality of sleep. Concentration of alcohol in the blood is usually highest one hour after ingesting the drink, so drinking too close to falling asleep (even just one drink) can decrease your chances of having a good nights sleep by a significant amount!
It’s also unwise to drink before sleeping, especially the night before a big test or presentation.

Fun Fact: A great deal of memory formation and retention happens while sleeping. If you’re not getting a good quality and a substantial amount of sleep then the memory retention occurring at night is not to its’ best ability. Binge drinking, drinking 5+ drinks for men and 4+ drinks for women in the course of two hours, can affect the brain and body’s functions for up to three days; add that to not getting enough sleep and one’s overall functioning is looking pretty dim.

What less sleep can be doing to you:
1. Increasing episodes of depression
2. Difficulty performing everyday tasks and increased irritability
3. Decreased motivation, memory, and concentration
4. Impaired social functioning
5. Lowered mental stamina
6. Decreased creativity and spontaneity

Can Caffeine really keep you up at night?

Unlike alcohol, caffeine is a stimulant which in turn reduces the flow of sleep inducing chemicals in the brain while also increasing adrenaline production. Caffeine can have stimulating effects as soon as 15 minutes after consuming the beverage and it shortens the deep sleep cycle. It takes around 6 hours for half of the caffeine ingested to be eliminated from your body. Therefore, it is best to curb drinking caffeine at about 6 hours before going to bed. However, at that point only half of the caffeine would be fully processed and eliminated by your body. So maybe it’s best to stick to that one morning cup a day rule.

Fun Fact: It is possible to be physically dependent on caffeine just as it is equally possible to be physically dependent on alcohol. There is a disorder in which many people dependent on caffeine are susceptible to, known as Caffeine Induced Sleep Disorder. This disorder occurs when caffeine has lengthened the amount of time it takes for one to fall asleep.

What caffeine can be doing to you:
1. Reducing fine motor skills
2. Headaches, nervousness, and dizziness
3. Causing insomnia
4. Rapid heartbeat

Caffeine and Sleep

It’s safe to say that alcohol, caffeine, and sleep do not mix well together. Careful what you choose to drink before bed… Sweet Dreams.

Sleep More, Achieve More!

As I write this, I’m thinking about my bed and wishing the day was over so I could crawl into bed. However, when the time comes, sleep doesn’t come as easily as I would like. I toss and turn and sometimes count sheep before I finally doze off. Not only does it take a while to fall asleep, there isn’t a night that passes that I don’t wake up to use the bathroom. This drives me crazy. Research has shown direct connections to the importance of sleep and the effect on academic success. In order to get a good night sleep there are certain tips that should be followed.

• Keep a regular sleep schedule
It’s important to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Try to sleep the same number of hours every day, at the same time. When I sleep for less than 7 hours a night – the next day is awful! I’m rundown, yawning, find myself thinking of bed and in general, I’m not a happy or friendly person. It messes up my day.

• Create a relaxing bedtime routine
Taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, and reading a book are all examples of a relaxing bedtime routine. Activities that help tell your body it’s time to sleep and reduce stress and anxiety. Whenever I need to unwind, I take a warm bath and relax which ultimately makes me sleepy. Avoid activities like watching TV or homework right before bed because it can keep you awake by stimulating your mind. Even the bright light emitted from the television or computer can wreak havoc with your sleep. Turn off your electronics a couple of hours before bed to ensure they don’t ruin your rest. Give your brain a chance to wind down from the day.

• Get comfy
One thing about college is that controlling your sleep environment is very difficult. However, do your best to get comfortable. If you are in a residence halls with a noisy roommate, who stays up late with the light on, get eye masks and ear plugs. Ensure your side of the room looks appealing and relaxing. Finding comfortable sheets can create a pleasant bedtime experience, too. The room should be dark and you could do this by hanging up a black sheet around your bed or hanging up dark curtains. Keep the temperature down – it should be between 68-70F.

• Limit daytime naps to 10-30 minutes
No matter how tired I am I try avoiding naps during the day and when it’s absolutely necessary, never for more than 30 minutes, and ideally before 3pm. An early afternoon nap may help you get through your day.

• Turn off your electronics at least 30 minutes before falling asleep
There have been numerous studies showing that using a light-emitting device before bed, like a phone, TV, or laptop, stimulates the brain, creating a false alertness and stimulation, making it harder to sleep. I usually try and turn off my phone or put it on silent and put it face down, even if it’s on, so I will not be disturbed by the light.

• Use your bed for sleep and sex only
I know this may be difficult to do especially when you are in the residence halls, but avoid using your bed for homework or other activities especially ones that cause stress and anxiety. This will help strengthen the association between your bed and sleep.

• Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before bedtime
I love drinking chocolate drinks, but I try to limit my intake after 4pm. This is because caffeine (found in coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate) is a stimulant and causes your body to be more alert. It can stay in the body for an average of three to five hours. Even if you don’t think caffeine affects you, it is likely to hinder your sleep quality. Although many people use alcohol as a sleep aid, it actually decreases sleep quality by increasing night time awakenings. This leads to a night of lighter sleep that is less restful. Nicotine is a stimulant, which can make it difficult to fall asleep. When tobacco users go to sleep, withdrawal symptoms can also cause poor sleep. Nicotine can also cause problems waking up in the morning and causing nightmares. Avoid nicotine 2 hours before bedtime.

If you want more information, please contact the Health & Wellness Hub on the main floor of the Memorial Union. Enjoy your sleep!

Weed 2.0

A few weeks ago I wrote about the use and abuse of marijuana, and I learned a lot about how popular the drug has become. What you may not know is that last week we did an outreach project in the Memorial Union about marijuana. I was surprised at the questions we received and the controversy we heard about the drug from the students. One of the questions that caught me off guard was, “what are the long-term effects of marijuana use if you’re not smoking it, just eating it?” I honestly have never even thought about this before, so I started to do some research and here’s what I found:

Overall, there has not been enough research to determine the exact long-term effects of marijuana use if you are consuming it in ways other than smoking. However, eating marijuana has much different short-term effects on the body. When people consume marijuana, let’s say in a brownie, it takes up to an hour to feel the effects. Once the marijuana begins taking effect, it is usually stronger than if you were to have smoked it. People tend to have strong hallucinations from eating marijuana. Because it takes longer to feel the effects, many people keep eating more because they think that it’s not working, and then they eat way too much.

Even though we don’t know the major long-term effects of eating marijuana, it doesn’t have many positives. Any use of marijuana may lead to severe anxiety, depression, and lower grades and GPA (if you’re a student). Until more research is done on the long-term effects of eating marijuana, I would avoid it because there are more negative consequences than positive ones when it comes to using marijuana.

MJ

“DUDE, Where’s My Car?”

Many of us have uttered these words as we’ve walked out of Target trying to remember where we parked. Some of us may have said these words after a long night of partying hard. Although, driving after a party if you’re completely sober is fine, it is important to remember not to drive after you have had any amount of alcohol.

When people drive after drinking alcohol, the chances of a fatal car accident increase significantly. Nationally, a person is injured approximately every two minutes from alcohol related crashes and every thirty minutes someone is killed because of an alcohol related crash. On average, every weeknight between 10:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m., 1 in 13 drivers is drunk; between 1:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., 1 in 7 drivers is drunk (www.dot.nd.gov). If you are caught driving after you have had a few drinks you may receive:

• A class B misdemeanor
• A fine no more than $500 if your BAC is below .1, or two day imprisonment and no more than a $750 fine if your BAC is .16 or greater
• Addiction evaluation
• A 91 day license suspension if your BAC is below 1.8 or a 180 day license suspension if your BAC is 1.8 or higher.
(http://www.dot.nd.gov/divisions/safety/penaltiesdrinkingdriving.htm)

These are some pretty serious consequences for driving while intoxicated, and they just represent the first time you are caught drinking and driving. The second offense has much greater fines and restrictions. Fortunately, we have come up with an acronym to help you remember to be a little more prepared for a fun night without intoxicated driving.

D: Don’t
U: Underestimate
D: Drunk
E: Experiences

Although you may feel and think you’re fine to drive after you have had some alcoholic drinks, the truth is that the consequences can be deadly. Don’t underestimate the power you have while you are drunk. You have the power to make a bad choice and potentially ruin someone’s life (or your own) and the power to make a good choice and have a safe night. It’s up to you. Last but not least, don’t forget that there are always alternatives to driving drunk, like having a designated driver take you and your friends home, calling a cab, or spending the night at the place you’re at (if it’s a friend’s house).

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